To assess whether Asian race is an independent variable affecting survival and hepatitis B virus (HBV) recurrence after liver transplantation, the results of 27 consecutive liver transplants performed between June 1994 and April 1997 for HBV cirrhosis were analysed. In the group of 13 Asians, 38% had associated hepatocellular carcinoma and 62% had positive hepatitis B virus early antigen (HBeAg) or elevated HBV-DNA before transplant. Prophylactic hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) was administered perioperatively and long term at 4–6 weekly interval. Four patients with elevated HBV-DNA received lamivudine before transplantation. The 3 year actuarial patient survival rate was 100% in both Asian and non-Asian patients. Twenty-six patients remained seronegative for hepatitis B virus surface antigen after transplantation. The incidence of post-transplant HBV recurrence was similar: 0% in Asians compared with 7% in non-Asians. There was no recurrence in the group of 12 patients who were HBV-DNA or HBeAg negative pretransplant.